Feeds

WIMPs wipe each other out in giant radiating spot at galaxy's centre

What's 10,000 light years across and smells of gamma radiation?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Weakly interacting massive particles – WIMPs, one of the candidate hypotheses to explain dark matter – are so hard to find on Earth that nobody's ever seen them. However, a just-released analysis of years of gamma ray data suggests they're at the centre of the Milky Way in enormous numbers.

The zone they're talking about is huge: in this paper published at Arxiv and submitted to Physical Review D, the researchers find that there's a sphere with a radius of 5,000 light-years in the centre of the galaxy that's emitting more gamma radiation than expected.

In the analysis, based on publicly-available data from NASA's Fermi gamma ray space telescope, the researchers say the gamma rays can't be accounted for using by any currently-known sources. Their hypothesis is that the radiation is “consistent with the emission expected from annihilating dark matter”.

The research suggests after sources like undiscovered pulsars or cosmic rays colliding with gas clouds are eliminated from the data, the remaining energy – in the 1 to 3 GeV range – could be explained by WIMPs with mass between 31 and 40 GeV annihilating in the hugely energetic region they inhabit.

Galactic centre image by Fermilab

With known sources removed from the galactic map, the remaining noise might be

WIMPs wiping each other out. Image T Linden, University of Chicago

As one of the lead authors of the paper, Fermilab astrophysicist Dan Hooper told New Scientist, “At this point, there are no known or proposed astrophysical mechanisms or sources that can account for this emission”.

At this point, however, the signal falls far short of being a discovery: there's still a one-in-twelve chance that the signal is a fluctuation in the gamma ray background.

The team included scientists from Harvard, Harvard-Smithsonian, MIT, Fermilab, Princeton and the University of Chicago. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.